Seniors Say Goodbye to Pace Basketball Teams

Men’s and women’s basketball teams lined up welcoming teammates during the Senior Day ceremony. Photo by James Miranda/The Pace Chronicle.

Men’s and women’s basketball teams lined up welcoming teammates during the Senior Day ceremony. Photo by James Miranda/The Pace Chronicle.

JAMES MIRANDA, Sports Editor

There were 16 seconds left on the game clock and the Pace women’s basketball team was down 56-51 in their final game of the season last Wed., Feb. 23. Within the final seconds of their last game at Pace, the players were focused on winning.

The men’s basketball game that followed was also close as the final minutes ran down. And the scene was set for an epic finish, but it was a just-miss.

Both teams lost 58-54 and 74-69 respectively to Southern Connecticut State University during Senior Day—a day devoted to teams’ seniors usually in the final game of the season.

The seniors departing are forwards Yuni Sher and Rachel Dortch, and guards Shanice Maynard and Shelton Mickell.

The women’s team (11-17, 6-14 NE-10) played a seesaw game fit with an eight-point comeback in the first and leading by one into halftime.

“We came into the game just giving our best foot forward, give a lot of effort and tone it, and leave everything out on the floor,” Dortch said. “I’ve been very emotional these past few days, just up and down. I’ve been playing basketball for a decade so to know this is all coming to an end is heartbreaking.”

It would stay very much the same until the fourth where Pace lead as much as five-points at the 7:46 mark. The Southern Connecticut Owls women’s team (18-10, 11-9 NE-10) went on a 20-10 run to end the game.

Women’s basketball was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention Feb. 20.

“It’s a hard pill to swallow, basketball’s something we’ve been working on since we were very little kids,” said Sher, who’s been with the program since her freshman year. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t make playoffs this year, but it didn’t take away from us winning this game.”

The men’s game had playoff implications and it amounted to just that.

Southern Connecticut’s men’s team (22-6, 17-3 NE-10) honed a ruthless defense and going on a 13-4 run immediately taking an uproarious crowd of 457 out of it. Pace trailed as much as 17-8 by the 14:54 mark, but made their comeback tying it and coming within three to go into halftime.

“This was a playoff game for us so we had to do everything we can,” said guard Bryan Rivers. “If we lose we’re off for two weeks; if we win there’s no off and we get to keep playing. That was our motivation.”

That woke the Setters men’s team (9-19, 6-14 NE-10) and propelled them to a 10-point lead in the second half. However, the Owls were up by three at the 3:57 mark. Mickell hit a 3-pointer to tie it.

One minute was left and Pace was down by one, the ball went to Mickell who drove to the basket, missing a layup for the lead. Southern Connecticut emphatically closed it out with a dunk.

They were eliminated from playoffs as a result, but the game meant a lot more to Mickell.

“As the two minute mark hit, I started to know that my season was nearing an end whether it be continuing or not and I got those thoughts like this could be it but we were still right there in the game,” said Mickell, who came to Pace after transferring his junior year. “My whole family was here and my mom flew up from Florida to come see me play; she didn’t get a chance to see me play at home this year.”

The seniors had an emotional night, but in both cases they felt like they were still in the game. The season is over, but they’ll remember those last minutes competing.